Opportunities for Africa's entrepreneurs
On the 28th October, the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Forum will take place. Launched in 2015, the Tony Elumelu Foundation’s Entrepreneurship Programme (TEEP) is the largest African philanthropic initiative devoted to entrepreneurship. It aims identify and empower 10,000 African entrepreneurs, create a million jobs and add up to $10 billion in revenues to Africa's economy within 10 years.
The upcoming forum is part of this plan. The three-day event in Lagos, Nigeria presents the opportunity for 1,000 entrepreneurs to network and forge partnerships.
Clearly, the Tony Elumelu Foundation recognises Africa's huge entrepreneurial potential. We take a look at other schemes/organisations across the continent that champion Africa's entrepeneurial spirit.
African Entrepreneur Collective
African Entrepreneur Collective is a small team of staff from Rwanda, the US and the UK. It was founded in 2012 by Julienne Oyler and Sara Leedom – two social entrepreneurs with experience of living and working in Africa. AEC’s program supports existing entrepreneurs. These programmes include Inkomoko (signature business development program), African Innovation Prize (for students), AEC Rwanda Trustee (low-cost loan funding), THINK (the Tigo-backed tech incubator), and SPRING (an East African accelerator focused on innovations for girls). Partners include the UN Refugee Agency.
Africa’s Young Entrepreneurs
“If you can achieve this much alone, how much more can we achieve together?”, AYE’s website reads. The organisation aims to empower young entrepreneurs across Africa by creating platforms that facilitate intra-trade on the continent. AYE holds a yearly Networking with Giants conference, in which youngsters network and close business deals. The organisation even has its own entrepreneurial "reality show”. At present, AYE has 12,637,438 members.
British Council’s Entrepreneurial Africa programme
The British Council runs the Entrepreneurial Africa programme, a series of enterprise challenges across Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Sudan. Since 2013, the programme has been broadcast on TV and online. It has engaged 12,000 young entrepreneurs. Alongside building links within the continent, Entrepreneurial Africa offers ways for young Africans to connect with British organisations.
5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly
Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.
Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills.
What do you do, in a nutshell?
I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.
How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?
I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.
They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?
The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.